Gijon, September 26th- October 13th
This is our first longer stay in a city. We find a very pleasant parking with a huge park overlooking the big sweep of beach that fronts the town. The first day turns out to be a bit of a shopping spree – we pick up our second fold-up bike, a speaker and some storage boxes that fit our new shelving system perfectly. Soon there will be enough space inside our Emma for Frank to be able to set up his massage table! The speaker was a last minute necessity – I picked up 2 private Tango lessons to be held in the park on my lovely portable dance floor. In the evening, we stumble upon a treat: a free Flamenco and Tango performance in a tiny art gallery – very intimate and very passionate on both counts!
We have some fun washing in the sea at night. The waves are quite strong and there is an undertow too, and as I have a bad toe having stubbed it on a rock the day before, I keep falling over as if I’m drunk. The sea is lovely and warm. So far we’ve found great places to swim/wash and have not had any need for showers. Just have a look at these two – last Tuesday and Wednesday’s. One in the Picos, one by the sea. Probably about 30 Minutes driving in between. Who needs a bathroom when you got this??? And don’t they both remind you of Devon?
I wonder though what it’s going to be like when the temperatures sink….
We can really explore the city now that we have two bikes! Gijon has an old part of the town near the fortress that is overlooking the ports. When I go to explore it one afternoon, it seems eerily quiet compared to the lively city with its bustling parks where people meet in the evenings and watch the children play in the playgrounds. Gijon has a huge sandy beach at the waterfront, several kilometers long and impeccably clean (it gets swept every night). The people seem relaxed and friendly here.
There is a different culture in Spain about helping people. People stop and help whenever someone is in need, effortlessly and without being asked. For example when Frank’s bike chain comes off, another man stops and starts helping him without even talking to him first.
An old couple park their mobile home near ours, and I see something dangling underneath in a way that probably it shouldn’t. I alert them to it and see how the old man has problems even looking underneath, let alone reach under to sort it out. So I shuffle myself underneath to find a relais dangling that should be fixed. I fix it for them and we chat a bit, and they leave me two water bottles. Being in need and also looking out for others in need is a good opportunity to connect with people. After an exchange like that, I feel so much richer.
On Sunday, we join a group of people for food and Tango in a restaurant in Villaviciosa. The food is excellent, the company is joyful, and the dancing is friendly. It turns out that the head chef is a renowned Asturian singer, and once the food is all under way, she regales us with her songs. First from the kitchen via microphone, but then she also comes out of hiding and sings for us without amplification. She has an extraordinary voice and the songs are exquisite – beautifully decorated laments, strong and with a very interesting non-western tonality. A little bit like Corsican music, but also like flamenco, and like Bulgarian singing too…
Alejandro and Umbe are at the dance. They are the Tango teachers in this area, and they were in fact the performers from a few days ago. They are really nice people and they have a little Tango school called Tango Brujo, beautifully done up, right in the centre of Gijon, where they teach but also host all sorts of other classes from Pilates to Flamenco and swing. They have a Tango festival too. Unfortunately it’s next weekend, when we are both away, Frank in Wales and I in Germany…
We are not looking forward to having to break our journey, but needs must, and most likely we will enjoy our time away once we are there. Frank is off to Wales, to do a clown gig, to see his family and to sort out some stuff. I’m off to teach in Dresden and then in Proitze, meeting Yoli on the way. We will reunite in just over a week to continue our journey.
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